The Kasbah Restaurant, 59 Putnam St., has been a staple on the Winthrop dining scene in the center of town for 11 years.
Owner Nasser Belghiti, who is originally from Morocco, has made a large investment in his business and family life in the town. He purchased the building that houses Kasbah, bought a home here, and his son is set to start elementary school in the fall.
Kasbah is a Mediterranean-style restaurant that serves Moroccan, Middle Eastern, North African, Spanish and American food.
Part of the unique dining experience on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday is a belly dancing show. Belghiti, who is also an outstanding chef, gives guests not only a taste of delicious foods but a taste of his culture.
But the belly dancing portion of the enjoyable dining experience – which consists of four 10-minute sets – has been a source of minor debate by a few residents.
“I’ve heard the jabs,” said Belghiti. “I’ve heard some criticism about the belly dancing and the hookah (an instrument in which a substance consisting of dried fruit and molasses is inhaled).”
Belghiti has been surprised by the few negative comments. For the past four years people of all nationalities have traveled to Kasbah for the spirited exhibition by professional belly dancers who are attired in colorful two-piece costumes.
“The message I would like to send out to Winthrop residents is to just give us a chance and try our dining experience,” said Belghiti. “I want the support and acceptance from local residents. I would appreciate that. We have excellent food. There is nothing out of the ordinary happening here. Belly dancing is a beautiful thing, a cultural thing. I hope people will give it a shot.”
Ernie Deeb, a regular visitor to the Kasbah who happened to be dining there at the time of the interview, praised Belghiti for running a great establishment whose food is outstanding.
“My wife and I and my family have eaten at the Kasbah many times,” said Deeb. “It’s a very comfortable, unique atmosphere. The food is delicious and the prices are reasonable. It’s one of our favorite restaurants.”
All Belghiti wants is Winthrop residents to visit his restaurant. He’s confident that one visit will win diners over and make them regular customers.
“We’ll be waiting for you with open arms,” said Belghiti. “We have excellent food, everything for everybody from steak to tapas to fish. We’re flexible with our menu and have a full bar. We’re open to suggestions and recommendations from our guests. We’re a family restaurant (kids eat free on Sundays). We would like the local residents to support us so we can be here for a long time.”